World Indoor Pentathlon champion Jessica Ennis has added her name to the star cast of athletes bound for the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham later this month as she steps up preparations to secure a historic major championships double in 2012.
Ennis’ inclusion in the Birmingham meet on 18 February, where she will compete in both the 60m Hurdles and Long Jump events, emphasises its billing as one of the world’s premier indoor athletics competitions. Former World record holder Asafa Powell, 5000m World champion Mo Farah and double World gold medallist Vivian Cheruiyot will also feature in a stellar line-up at the National Indoor Arena.
Twenty-six-year-old Ennis will use the Aviva Grand Prix as vital preparation for her tilt at back-to-back World Indoor crowns in Istanbul (9-11 March) next month and her gold medal assault on the London Olympic Games this summer.
The Aviva Grand Prix takes place just three weeks before the World Indoor Championships, where Ennis will look to retain her Pentathlon title by seeing off her main rival and the woman who took the World outdoor title from her in Daegu last summer, Russian Tatyana Chernova.
Ennis admits the Birmingham meet is the perfect opportunity to test herself against the best athletes on the planet and says the event will go far in determining whether she will achieve her goal of World Indoor and Olympic triumphs this year.
“The Aviva Grand Prix always attracts a strong field of athletes and it will be good to line up against a really competitive field before the World Indoor Championships,” said Ennis.
“Every competition is important in the build-up to the Champs in March and then I have to re-focus on the outdoor season in what is a huge year for me and all of my fellow athletes.
“I’m planning to compete at the World Indoor Championships next month, that’s my focus before the summer and that’s definitely how I’m looking at this year. I don’t want to focus on the Olympics too soon. It’s great to know that it’s 2012 but I’m really just trying to take it one meet at a time and keep training hard."
“I’m feeling in really good shape after the winter, everything has gone well and I feel strong and ready to get out there and compete. I’d love to repeat the success I had in Doha and defend my World Indoor title and I will give it my best shot."
“There are some really good girls competing in the Heptathlon at the moment and any one of them could step up their game at any time. But I’m happy with the way I’m training and will be giving my all at the World Indoor Championships. I can only control my own preparation and with my coach I am doing just that.”
Ennis will line up in Birmingham on the back of the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships in her home town of Sheffield this weekend, an event at which she has experienced considerable success in the past.
The Sheffield star will take on four events at the English Institute of Sport as she steps up preparations for the months ahead.
Ennis will compete in the Shot Put and High Jump on Saturday – the latter of which she has won three times in her career – before taking on the 60m Hurdles and Long Jump on Sunday.
She added: “It’s great competing in Sheffield, it feels quite different to other meets because I live just down the road and I train here most days so it’s all familiar and comfortable. The crowd really gets into the action and I enjoy competing with lots of local support behind me."
“This will be the second meet I will have competed in Sheffield this month. Both have been carefully planned by my coach to fit in with exactly what I need to be doing at this time of year. I’ve just come off some intense winter training that started back in October so I’m really looking forward to competing properly."
“It’s really important at the start of a new season to get a good feel for the competitive shape you are in and it’s only at these meets that you can really gauge how successful your training has been.”
Tickets for this weekend's Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships are now sold out. The event will be shown live in the UK on Channel 4 from 2pm on 12 February.
Birmingham organizers for the IAAF